News / Asia

Taliban Free Fellow Jailed Terrorists from Pakistani Prison

Policemen collect evidence outside a prison following a Taliban attack in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, July 30, 2013.
Policemen collect evidence outside a prison following a Taliban attack in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, July 30, 2013.
Ayaz Gul
Security forces have launched a massive manhunt in a city in the northwestern Pakistani province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where more than 200 prisoners have escaped following an overnight militant assault on a prison.

With Taliban-led violence on the rise, the leader of the province's ruling party has warned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan could lose its anti-terror war unless a national counter-terrorism policy is quickly devised.

Dozens of suspected Taliban fighters armed with bombs and grenades took part in the Monday night raid on the central prison of Dera Ismail Khan, a remote town in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Eyewitnesses and residents said the attack began with a powerful explosion, which was followed by smaller blasts that blew up electricity lines into the prison and rattled almost every house in the neighborhood. Twelve people, including four policemen, were killed during the attack, which lasted for several hours, according to officials.

Pakistani troops were quickly sent in to help the civilian administration prevent the attackers and prisoners from escaping to the neighboring restive tribal districts of North and South Waziristan.  A curfew was imposed in Dera Ismail Khan and a search was launched.

Military sources said that “intelligence-led search operations are underway while combat aviation is also deployed for air surveillance” in-and-around Dera Ismail Khan. They said that all roads leading to the militant-dominated neighboring tribal regions have been blocked.

However, as of Tuesday afternoon Pakistani authorities had been able to recapture only 17 of the escapees, including five women. Three “terrorists” were also killed in the encounter. 

Pakistani Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.

Military sources said that nearly 500 prisoners were in the facility at the time of the brazen attack and that 248 managed to escape, including up to 20 they described as “hardcore terrorists.”

The sources revealed that intelligence reports were recently made available to local authorities warning an attack on the prison was imminent. However, only around two dozen police personnel were guarding the facility when Monday night’s raid occurred.  

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has seen a dramatic rise in Taliban-led militant violence in recent months. Imran Khan, the leader of the political party that rules the region, said terrorist attacks like the one on the prison were likely to grow in number unless the central government devised a national counter-extremism policy. 

Speaking to VOA, Khan demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fulfill his commitment to present a national security policy without wasting further time.

“Taliban influence is increasing because radicalization is increasing because extremism is growing and there is no proper policy of dealing with the various forms of terrorism," he said. "Unless there is at a national level a policy is made and then we have something like homeland security [in the U.S.], where all intelligence agencies pool their intelligence and a coherent policy comes across, [with] all stakeholders on board -- unless that happens, we are going to lose this war.”

However, Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal dismissed criticism that Prime Minister Sharif’s administration was not making efforts to confront the militants.

“We are trying to deal with the situation. The prime minister has had consensus with the security agencies. Now we are evolving a consensus with the political parties. Very shortly, Prime Minister [Sharif] will have a meeting of all the political parties. We want to have a national strategy on security, so that we can address this issue with fullest national resolve,” said Iqbal.

Last week, Taliban extremists killed nearly 60 people, mostly Shi'ite Muslims, in two separate bomb attacks in the northwestern Kurrum tribal district. That violence came just days after a commando-style militant gun-and-bomb raid on a regional headquarters of the country’s main spy agency, the ISI, which is directing Pakistan’s war against terrorism.

The attack in the otherwise sleepy southern town of Sukkur killed nine people, including four ISI officers.

Since Pakistan joined the U.S.-led anti-terrorism war 12 years ago, successive governments in Islamabad have come under criticism for not evolving a clear policy to deal with Islamic radicalism. Despite losing thousands of Pakistanis in the anti-militant campaign, critics say that a prolonged debate among political leaders on whether to use outright military force against militant groups or engage them in peace talks to end violence has simply emboldened extremist forces in the country.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hamoun from: Zabol
July 30, 2013 11:19 AM
The sources revealed that intelligence reports were recently made available to local authorities warning an attack on the prison was imminent. However, only around two dozen police personnel were guarding the facility when Monday night’s raid occurred.

Same security force that was searching for Bin Laden. Looks like Pkistn has a real commitment to ending global terrorism...not.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisisi
X
March 06, 2015 12:28 AM
There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Winter Weather Strikes Eastern US...Again!

A new wintry blast has hit more than 20 states in the U.S. Midwest and Mid-Atlantic region, adding more snow to the piles from previous storms. Tired of shoveling snow, breaking the ice and dealing with accidents, flight delays and property damage, most Americans hope this is the last bout of cold for the season. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Myanmar's Traditional Fashion Choices Endure

The sartorial choices of Myanmar’s men and women quickly catch the eye of any visitor to the tropical Southeast Asian country. But at a time when Myanmar’s political and economic opening is bringing affordable western fashions to the masses, will the country’s unique fashion trends endure? VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Yangon explores that question.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More